Brig. Gen. Calvin H. Elam

Posted in Commercial Photography, Editorial, Portrait photography with tags , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by ricksmoak
Brig. Gen. Calvin Elam

Brig. Gen. Calvin Elam

SC Air National Guard’s first African American general officer, Brig. Gen. Calvin Elam,  promoted in Jan 2013. This portrait was taken of Gen. Elam for South Carolina Living magazine and will be in the July issue of  magazine.


Commercial Architecture Photography Columbia SC

Posted in Architecture, Commercial Photography on May 7, 2013 by ricksmoak

Kiawah Island SC
Camens Architecture

Dusk Exterior Kiawah

Dusk Exterior Kiawah

Westcott Seven Foot Umbrella

Posted in Portrait photography with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by ricksmoak

This is how we do location shoots in the south. Seven ft. Westcott umbrella, heavy duty stand, sandbags, Canon 5d mk2, Elinchrom Ranger, lovely assistant and of course beautiful model. This was shot at the Millstone Plantation just outside of Coumbia, SC.

One Light Glamour Head Shot

Posted in Portrait photography with tags , , , , on February 15, 2012 by ricksmoak

The shot below was created with a one light set up that works great for glamour style head shots. I just received several new Westcott 60″ white satin umbrellas with removable black cover. I used one umbrella without the black cover and a Dynalite head shooting thru the satin providing a large soft light source. The light was placed camera left  with the bottom of the umbrella about a foot above the camera. Then I used a roll of reflective mylar underneath in a U shaped curve for fill. I should have made one image with the model in place but didn’t, however below right is a shot of the set.  This is a very simple set up that works with studio strobes or portable units to give a very polished look.  The price of these light modifiers is very reasonable considering the quality of light you get. I never leave the studio without at least one of these umbrellas in my kit.

I have used the Westcott light modifiers for more than 20 years and have dragged them from Tampa to Pittsburg to Memphis. From construction sites to industrial shoots to corporate portraits. Here is a link to their products page.  You can find them at B&H photo and just about any photo retailer.

Interview with Raw and Tistan Judd

Posted in Commercial Photography, Portrait photography with tags , , , on August 2, 2011 by ricksmoak

The are quite a few interviews with different photographers from around the world here to check out, as well as other photography related stuff.

Seven Beautiful Sunrises In Seven Days

Posted in Fine Art Photography with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by ricksmoak
Folly Beach 2011

Folly Beach Sunrise 7-16-11

It could be that I have a problem. As a professional photographer you would think that while on vacation at least, I might put the camera down for a few days. Maybe sleep in, lay in the sun, read a book, or ride my motorcycle;  I do have interests other than photography.  Oh but no, I shot almost two thousand images between my canon 5d mk 2 and iphone 4. Not only that, instead of sleeping in, I got up to shoot the sun rising seven straight days.

As much as I  dislike, hate is maybe a better word, dragging myself out of bed early I have never regretted the effort once I see the incredible dawn light. Still it’s amazing that every day there will be a beautiful sunrise and at the end of the day an equally beautiful sunset, and somehow that makes the stuff in between a little more enjoyable.

Here are seven of my favorite images from the sunrise shoots.

Back Up!

Posted in Commercial Photography, Portrait photography with tags , , on July 28, 2011 by ricksmoak

In business we have to keep looking ahead and moving forward. As a photographer I also have to back up daily.  Every day’s work has to be protected from power surges, fire, theft, equipment failure or just accidental deleting. Whether you are a professional, hobbyist or take lots of family photographs it’s important to have a system in place that can handle your workflow.  There are two things we need to accomplish. 1. multiple copies and 2. on site and off site storage.

A big advantage of digital over film is the ability to store multiple copies in multiple locations of all of our image files. With negatives and transparencies they were always archived in the safest place possible. However even Ansel Adams once experienced the disaster of a fire that destroyed some of his work. Catastrophes  will happen.  So, yes, we need a back up system, and yes, there is the cost of  time and  money, but failure to properly manage your assets could cost you years of professional work or cherished family photographs.

Here is our current workflow. I shoot tethered most of the time but not always and even when I shoot to cf cards I usually download to a laptop in the field.  When on location I use the G-Tech G/Drive Mobile 500 gig to back up. The G/Drive is solid, portable and fast using firewire 800. It doesn’t need external power so even in the field I am able to instantly back up everything I shoot. You can find them online and at some Bestbuy stores.

As soon as I am back in the studio the new files are then copied to 2 back up drives and one desktop drive that I work from. We are using a docking station from Thermaltake called BlacX.  This came from and cost less than $30 with shipping. With this unit you can connect internal hds without an enclosure. So you are saving money and space over the normal desktop hard drives. The one that I use is a single and connects by usb so it’s a little slow; however, for backing up it’s just fine. There is a dual version that I may add later. For now my choice for hard drives are the Western Caviar Black 1tb.  It runs about $85 and has a great rating.

So now I have the files on a desktop hd, and 2 bare hard drives. One of the two is filed away out of site in the studio and the other is kept off site. Multiple copies in multiple locations. Once I have finished editing, the processed and retouched files are copied to the back up drives and then I will burn 2 dvds of the finished images, also separated for additional backup. This may seem like a lot of trouble but knowing the clients’ and my personal images are safe for today, tomorrow and the future allows me to keep moving forward.

If you want the ultimate safe work flow check out the Chase Jarvis work flow.